This Day in History – November 6th, 1967

Phil Donahue’s talk show premiered November 6, 1967 on WLWD-TV in Dayton. The first guest to appear on the show was atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair.

Considered to be a pioneer of the genre, Donahue’s show included controversial topics and had audience involved in the story, interacting with the host and guest and often asking questions.

Born and raised in Cleveland, Donahue moved to Dayton to host a phone-in radio show called Conversation Piece. This show aired from 1963 until the start of his show in 1967.

The Phil Donahue Show was later syndicated and went on to be the most watched syndicated talk show in 1980. The show won twenty Emmy awards and was inducted into the national Television Hall of Fame. The show ran in syndicate for twenty-six years, finally dipping in rates when other talk shows chose more inflammatory topics, while Donahue strayed away from the shock tactics. When the show ultimately went off the air in 1996, it had aired nearly 7,000 episodes in total.

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